On the Clock: 2017 New York Jets
by Mario Granata
The New York Jets took a turn for the worse in 2016 after a promising 2015 campaign that saw the Jets improve to a 10-6 record. They dropped to 5-11 due to the simple fact that their offense couldn’t put points on the board and their defense couldn’t stop anyone. The last time that the Jets had the 6th pick was in 2015 where they took Leonard Williams. Is another Leonard on their board for them at 6?
Head Coach: Todd Bowles
Offensive Coordinator (Rank): Chan Gailey (New: John Morton)
26th YPG, 27th Pass, 12th Run
Defensive Coordinator (Rank): Kacy Rodgers
22nd YPG, 17th Pass, 11th Run
Bowles will be going into his 3rd season with the Jets and probably thought his time with working with coaches approaching retirement was enough. He replaced the 65-year old Chan Gailey with John Morton who is 18 years Gailey’s junior. To say the offense of the Jets was inept would be saying something positive about the word inept. Bowles runs the type of defense that is dependent on the offense’s production. This type of formula for success seems to be dying out in the NFL, however with the right mix if players, it could work.
The Jets are a mere 9 million dollars under the cap as it stands, and will have to make some quality hits in the draft, as it will take about 9 million to sign all their picks for the 2017 campaign. There are a couple of contracts that they could take a second look at before the draft to unload if they wish to stay under the cap.
As highlighted previously in On the Clock: 2016 New York Jets, they could take a look at releasing Buster Skrine. Skrine had 4 interceptions and 67 tackles prior to signing in New York, but has seen a decline in his production. He has seen a drop in his playing time and with the type of defense that Bowles wants to implement, predicated on big plays in the secondary, the Jets could designate Skrine as a post June-1st cut and save about 3.5 million in cap space.
If the Jets also decide to part ways with Eric Decker (unlikely) and also make him a post June-1st cut, they would save another 4.75 million in cap space. With teams finding talent late in the draft at the receiver position, Decker’s time in New York might be done. (Hey, I said unlikely).
Many of the big name free agents that the Jets had have either been released or have sought greener pastures. If someone can tell me what Ryan Fitzpatrick is thinking, please let me know. Does he really think his production is such that he should be paid handsomely? Two words Ryno: Josh McCown.
It seems unlikely, but even with the 6th pick in the draft, the Jets will have to play the waiting game and see who the first 5 teams pick before they decide what direction they want to go. Could they be in line to take the dreaded “best available” pick that has been the thorn in many team’s sides in the past or do they have a particular player that they know will be there at 6?
The options are wide open for the Jets. A few names to consider are Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina, Jamal Adams, S, LSU, Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU or Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. There is a case to make that all of these players, with the exception of Trubisky could be gone by the time the Jets pick.
Trubisky seems like a logical selection for the Jets. They signed Josh McCown to a typical “back-up” contract probably to tutor any incoming quarterback that might be drafted. However, with teams finding gems at the quarterback position in the later rounds, they might take a player that can help right away and while the upside for Trubisky is high, the NFL is a win now league.
Adams could be the Jets pick as the secondary for the Jets was putrid in 2016, and having to contend with Tom Brady probably has Bowles up nights, however the smart money says that Adams will be gone by then. However, he could take a shot with Adams if he is there.
Fournette is all but wearing a Jacksonville Jaguars jersey and with the contract that Matt Forte has, the Jets cannot afford to cut him. The only way that the Jets make out on Forte’s deal is if he is traded, and even then they are only saving 1 million under the cap. That coupled with Bilal Powell’s performance late in the year, the Jets will look else ware.
Lattimore presents an interesting dynamic for Bowles as he would join recently signed Morris Claiborne on the outside. During his time in Arizona, Bowles had freedom to call defenses having Patrick Peterson on the outside and while no one is going to compare Claiborne to Peterson, Bowles could double up his corners and play 9-on-9 football (in theory).
Having limited cap space, the Jets are all but done signing big name players and along with McCown and Claiborne, they also snagged Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Quinton Patton.
Patton presents the most interesting of picks as he was drafted by the 49ers when Morton was there as a receivers coach. He obviously liked what the kid brought to the table in his ability to stretch the defense, but he hasn’t lived up to the potential that he holds. Maybe he can take the cover off the defense enough for Decker and Seferian-Jenkins to open up underneath.
Of all the moves that the Jets have made, the most intriguing is the hiring of Morton. Although he has never called plays in the NFL, he started his career learning under Jon Gruden and over the past 6 years has had a front row seat to both Jim Harbaugh and Sean Payton. So for a majority of his career he couldn’t have any better role models to look at as far as how to call a game. Does he have what it takes to make the Jets winners? We will soon see.
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